India may be a big importer of defence equipment but has been making steady progress in exports of such products to a number of countries including those who are big names in the export market like the US, Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, South Africa and Sweden.
These countries are in the list of 42 nations that also included Azerbaijan, Seychelles, Estonia, Indonesia, Guinea and the Philippines.
Minister of State for Defence, Shripad Naik, in a written reply to Rajya Sabha on Monday said the “cost of the items and quantum of foreign exchange earned varies from company to company" and the ministry did not keep a record of the quantum of foreign exchange earned.
Indian defence product exports to Australia included 5.56x45mm Ball MK N(SS109) cartridges, while it exported protective headgear and hard armour plates to Azerbaijan, helmets, bomb suppression blanket and soft armor panels to Germany, sleeping bags to Guinea, mortar shell covers to Israel, hard armour plates to the Netherlands and the US, radar parts, bullet proof vests and helmets with accessories to Singapore, detonators to South Africa and night vision binoculars to Thailand.
Indian exports to Qatar, Lebanon, Iraq, Equador, Uruguay, Japan and Egypt primarily comprised body protecting equipment, Naik said in his written response.
The minister’s response in Parliament comes a week after India organised the biennial Defence Expo in Lucknow that drew more than 1,000 Indian and foreign companies and more than 40 foreign delegations.
Under the“Make in India" flagship programme outlined in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has been laying emphasis on defence manufacturing in India to build up the country's manufacturing base, ensure jobs for its youth and to bring down India’s arms import bill. India is the second largest importer of defence equipment just behind Saudi Arabia in 2019, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
In his speech at the DefExpo last week, Modi urged foreign manufacturers to set up base in India listing the steps the government has taken to improve India’s investment climate. He noted that the export of defence equipment from India was about ₹2,000 crore in 2014, the year he took office. In the last two years, it had gone up to ₹17,000 crore and in the next five years, India’s target was to export of $5 billion worth of military hardware which is about ₹35,000 crore, Modi added.